When a soldier was killed in World War I an officer would sometimes try and tell his parents the bad news in person. More often it was done anonymously by telegram.
In this case the soldier had been a coward who had tried to get himself sent home (by shooting himself in the foot for instance) and had died because he panicked.
But the officer didn't have the heart to tell his poor old mother that so he told her that her son had died a glorious death fighting the enemy. What was the harm in an old woman going to her grave thinking her son was a hero.